x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Bashar Atiyat to conduct acting course in Dubai

The Hollywood actor, consultant and coach Bashar Atiyat tells Maey El Shoush about his visit to Dubai and a new course open to aspiring stars.

Bashar Atiyat is currently working on two big-budget Hollywood productions and is looking to cast local actors. Christopher Pike / The National
Bashar Atiyat is currently working on two big-budget Hollywood productions and is looking to cast local actors. Christopher Pike / The National

This weekend, the Hollywood actor Bashar Atiyat, of Syriana fame, will hold an intensive course in Acting for Film and Television at Dubomedy Arts, Dubai. The course is open to those with a love for screen and beginners with no prior acting experience, and aims to leave them with enough skills and confidence to then go on auditions.

A Bedouin in Hollywood

Atiyat, who is originally from Jordan, has been based in Los Angeles for 19 years, and also acts as consultant for big-budget productions on issues pertaining to culture, religion, location, cast and production. A "Bedouin in Hollywood", his roles have included Syriana, partly filmed in the UAE, The Wedding and Wishbone.

By 2001, he had become a certified coach in method acting, which he calls "the deepest form of character analysis".

During the acting course in Dubai, which runs from Sunday until November 3, Atiyat will focus on audition techniques and character development, scene and monologue work, emotional preparation and body language, script analysis and the difference between plot and subplot.

"My passion for acting stems from character development and the ability to play different roles. I wanted to portray characters from within the subconscious, because that's when the audience sees it as a natural portrayal," says Atiyat.

Inspired by a true story

When he was 23 and serving as a lieutenant in the Jordanian army, Atiyat decided to follow his dream of becoming an actor and bought a ticket to the US. He arrived in Dallas, with a single bag and few possessions. Soon after, he enrolled in a method acting academy, graduated with honours and headed straight to Hollywood.

"I would do it all over again. It's my passion," says Atiyat. "Even if I didn't win any awards I knew I wanted to live as an actor. It's all [the actor] Anthony Quinn's fault.

"Growing up at that time in Jordan, we had limited TV channels and one day my brother took me to see the film Omar Al Mukhtar. It was the first time I saw Quinn on screen, and I was so intrigued by his role I decided to dig deeper into method acting," says Atiyat.

Since then, he has acted as a liaison between Hollywood and the Middle East, with a goal to increase productions in the region and to promote local talent and crew.

"Over the next decade, we will see many more productions, especially with the increase in social media and events such as the Arab Spring. We have already noticed a rise in documentaries, which are a door to development," says Atiyat.

Meanwhile, stereotypes about the Middle East are gradually declining but will take more time to fully disappear, he says.

"It will take actors who do not feed into that, like, refusing to play terrorists. For example, between 2001 and 2007, the majority of Arab roles were of terrorists," he says. "After the revolutions in the region, Hollywood is trying to understand better and is intrigued by the region, the culture and religion. Now, we see more actors playing regular characters, just like anyone else."

Movies in the works

Atiyat is currently working on developing two big-budget Hollywood productions and is looking to cast local actors.

One of the films is an action thriller, 75 per cent of which will be shot on location in the region and the remaining 25 per cent in LA. The film has already attracted A-list actors.

The second is a pre-Islamic epic about a famous poet, which will be shot entirely in the Middle East.

"There is still quite a bit of romanticism attached to the region. If we look at 1,001 Arabian Nights and the stories of Aladdin or Ali Baba, for example, they still have a big influence because they gave the West this picture of an exotic land, culture and romance," says Atiyat.

The course runs from Sunday until November 3 at Dubomedy Arts, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Dubai, and is priced at Dh1800. To register, call Dubomedy on 04 374 6789